Categories
Musings

Truthful Words (Should) Matter

How much does truth matter to you? 

Mm, what’d you say?
Mm, that you only meant well
Well of course you did
Mm, what’d you say?
Mm, that it’s all for the best
Of course it is
Mm, what’d you say?
Mm, that it’s just what we need
You decided this
– “Hide and Seek”, Imogen Heap

It’s a cliche at this point to say American culture is at a crossroads. Each generation says and feels that “it’s never been like this before.” And they would be correct. Our moment is no different; how we talk and write about it is, however.

Categories
Musings

Best Supporting Actor

Be the best supporting actor role in everyone else’s story

Me, Me, Me

American culture has an odd obsession with celebrity and being a star and unique. We are taught to see ourselves as important and as the center of our universe. Individually we are each the point from which all things revolve and rotate around. We each matter, probably more than the next person! It’s ok for goals, personal freedoms, and desires to take precedence over any unexpected repercussions in our ongoing quest for self-gratification. It’s self above all else. 

Categories
Opinion

How to Care for Singles During a Quarantine

Let us remember to look after one another

Life is rarely easy. No matter how independent or self-sufficient or introverted we are or say we are, we need other people. For interaction, companionship, to love & be loved, for help, and so much more. In-person interaction is vital to our existence. However, that’s not something we all have easy access to, currently exacerbated by the current situation with COVID-19/Coronavirus. 

More Americans are living alone than ever before. Almost one third of the population lives alone. (I count myself among that population.) Like many introverts and so many memes, we’ve been “training for this all our lives” because we more often choose those times of solitude from interaction. Mildly funny, but a poor reflection of our current reality. That hasn’t previously excluded being alone in public, like coffee shops, stores, and restaurants. 

Additionally, this moment in history and our society adds extra and unspoken stress on those of us single and living on our own. I can appreciate that life is different for the family or couple who’s now on top of each other day and night. Or for the roommates who don’t have to see each other this often. I am sure some are looking at me thinking, “what I would give to have a place to myself right now!” Perhaps you need it! But you still have access to physical touch like high fives, handshakes, hugs. You are still allowed to be less than six feet away and look into someone else’s eyes while you talk and see their facial expressions as they look at yours. Do not take these things for granted. 

For those who share a dwelling with anyone else and share about your lives on social media, consider me simultaneously grateful for your ability to have those moments and deeply envious and pained that I am unable to do the same. Even the staunchest of introverts I know lament the inability to connect with friends and family they are close to in a meaningful capacity right now. And the truth is some days it sucks a lot more than others to be missing out. 

No matter how great technology has become and has allowed us to voluntarily socially/physically distance, *nothing* replaces talking face to face. That goes for those small and often silent moments in public, like seeing other people driving and going about their days. Other times it’s a brief conversation with coworkers at your job, or a server at a restaurant, or the small talk with a cashier. No amount of Zoom video conference calls can replicate or replace that face to face human element. I’m struck by how apparent it is that if we only use these communication tools and social media platforms can and will have some detrimental effects on how we see and communicate with people.

As of this writing, it’s been almost 4 weeks of being in shelter-in-place. I’ve had a few moments of interaction with friends (from a safe distance!) which I already look back on with fondness. While we’re keeping ourselves physically distanced from one another, I wrote down some ideas for how we can think about caring for the singles in our midst, especially those who aren’t sharing living space with anyone else right now.

Some of the suggestions here may be more specific to my own personality and experiences, but it’s just a list to get you thinking and to live it out for your people. 

  • Send a text once in a while to check in to say “hey.”
  • If they text you saying “hey”, reply back so they know you’re there for them. It’s possible they’re feeling lonely at that moment.
  • Inquire about their lives in a meaningful way. Move beyond the “How’s quarantine life?” question we’re all contractually obligated to ask each other.
  • Offer to watch/stream a show together and talk about it
  • Share the occasional dumb meme, ideally non-COVID-19 related. (I’ve seen enough to last me a LONG time.) You can send them privately. Do not post it on my Facebook wall.
  • Call that friend/family member. If they’re more introverted, send a text first to make sure they’re up for talking. 
  • Ask if they’re reading anything. If they are, ask thoughtful questions about the book/topic.
    • If they say “no,” ask why not and what he’s doing with the hundreds of unread books on his shelves in the guest room. 
  • Dropoff homemade food or baked goods on his porch. 
    • (It is extremely unlikely I will return this favor to anyone as I do not bake and am barely feeding myself well right now.) 
  • Remember they’ve been deprived of any meaningful physical contact for weeks, including simple things like handshakes or fist bumps. This is a hard time for them, even if they haven’t or can’t express this feeling of what’s been lacking.
  • If you live with others, be mindful and grateful for them. You are getting to interact with people in the flesh. This is more of a privilege than you may know right now.
  • Send money. (This is acceptable at all times, regardless of any worldwide pandemics.) 

I know we will get through this together, even if some of us can’t be physically together for a while.  Take care of one another out there.

Categories
Musings

Counting Up All The Change

It adds up to something much more significant than expected

“Every moment has led up to this.” 

– Every movie protagonist as they get ready to face their biggest foe

Change adds up

Over the last couple of years, on this blog I have examined questions about identity discovery, living in a space with less built-in promises, and on reliance and trust on people outside myself. Offline in the real world, I’ve been quietly preparing my mind and heart for a big change. What that change would be was very much unknown, but it’s clear through what I’ve felt compelled to share that the status quo wasn’t good enough anymore. In the process, I couldn’t see what that would add up to. I don’t have the final answer yet; I’m actually still doing the math and formula calculations, scratching out notes and numbers because I write in pen and never believed in doing my math homework with a pencil.   

Categories
Musings

On Reliance and Trust

Life has a way of finding new things to surprise us with and to shake things up to keep us on our toes. They can be small and feel inconsequential in the moment. Others are bigger and have an immediate effect on how you see the world. I’m in the midst of one of those bigger life surprises. 

I wonder if anyone has ever said, “This is the perfect time for a big life-altering shake-up?” Maybe, but those people are weird. When a core pillar has been removed from your life, everything begins to feel a bit unstable. For a moment, you can begin to wonder what else may shift out from under you. I, for one, am a big fan of solid ground and stability mixed in with some spontaneity I control the intake of. 

I do not like being in need or asking for help. I don’t mean in the small or obvious things that any sane person would need assistance with (e.g. “can you hold the door for me?” when your hands are full or “can you grab the other side of this huge couch and bring it up those three flights of stairs? Pivot!”) It’s the bigger and less tangible areas where your insides are reaching out for a hand to grasp so as to not fall off a cliff. It’s those moments when you feel weak, helpless, or otherwise lost. 

It’s been rare for me to feel like I truly have to rely on others. No, my life role (as discussed in other posts) is to be the helper, the stable one who people come to for insights, a listening ear, or a helping hand. I don’t feel comfortable needing assistance and not feeling as self-sufficient as I usually do. This side of the table doesn’t feel nearly as safe. 

However, I’ve also learned recently that my reluctance to put myself out there and to rely on friends and family is a habit I need to break. It’s also time that I learn how to take more risks. Earlier this year, I wrote about living in a space with no promises. Right now is an extension of that life lesson I’m painfully learning about. Sometimes we need to be beaten over the head with really big stuff to learn a lesson we’re not picking up fast enough. 

I’m reminded that in the middle of those big changes and transitions into whatever is next while I’m waiting it out, I have enough. No more, no less. I’m not lacking for food or shelter. I have people looking out for me and who care about me, but I also have to ask for that help. Most of them are not mind readers. 

While I take a slight pause to breathe and reflect, I am also reminding myself it is OK to rest. Life will be there tomorrow, with all its worries and concerns. It is OK to process, to check things off the list one at a time. I don’t have to beat myself up for not having figured out what’s next. This in-between phase is messy and a little frustrating. The script isn’t complete, but that’s perfectly fine. The edits and rewrites are coming. I don’t know what will be written when I turn the page. I do know the next chapter will turn out exactly how it needs to. I need to trust in that before I drive myself crazy from worry.

Categories
Musings

No Promises

This is the crux, the core, of so much hesitation in my life. There are no guarantees afforded to us. But I always want more of what isn’t available: More stability, more reliability, no bad surprises. That level of expectation is, of course, is folly and pure madness to chase after such levels of security and predictability. Perhaps it is that excitement, joy, and real living are found at the edges, in that space where we’re taken beyond our comfortable spaces. Those parts we’re afraid to expose to anyone else, maybe even to ourselves.

Categories
Musings

Identity Discovery

Every year around the sun brings with it a multitude of opportunities, but the most important one to me these last few years is taking the time to understand myself better, explore those things that I connect with, what doesn’t, and express what’s on my mind and heart through outlets like this blog. Intentionally or not, I have often found myself alone on the journey which provides (more than?) ample time to think, reflect, overthink, and act. In a world that creates so much noise, the solitude isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

As it’s been in previous years, I struggle with finding ways to summarize a whole year of my life into one post. What parts should I share about publicly on this platform? What am I comfortable sharing? Can I be vulnerable enough to go deeper than I have before? Is there anything about my life that is useful to others? Was there a common thread tying everything together?

Categories
Musings

Your Presence is Requested

“Presence with others is first about showing up.”

Presence (Amy Cuddy)

Who are the most important and influential people in your life? Growing up, very likely it was the friends and family who you were around and see on a regular basis. They showed up for birthday parties and graduations. You hung out in each other’s homes just doing whatever, sometimes nothing in particular. Simply being around each other was enough. In high school, college, and into your 20s, regularly being around people this was often still the determining factor in who you were close to and you mattered to you. That setting could be a school, church, or your job.